SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Andrea Angel arrived, eventually, at Marion Island but bad weather prevented most people from leaving the boat until the end of the week. Ross Wanless managed to finalise the contract with Keith Springer, whom BirdLife South Africa has contracted in to develop a project plan and draft an operational plan for the mouse control project at Marion. Keith gamely boarded the ship and started working on the deliverables before the contract was in place, while a supportive head office team expedited the signing of the contract with commendable speed. More good news is that the Mamont Foundation has indicated they will make a significant donation towards Marion Island, and discussions are underway to clear the process of transferring an initial $25K.
Albatross Task Force
Reason Nyengera captured AS@S records from a previous trip. He and Makhudu Masotla then visited Hout Bay harbour where they met up with three hake longline fishing captains to maintain the good relationship as well as promote the uptake of best practice mitigation measures. This harbour visit also resulted in securing a demersal longline trip for Makhudu to further his training. The two continued to source local materials for the new bird-scaring line (BSL) that the ATF is developing to suit the smaller longline vessels. , Makhudu departed on his sea trip. Philip Augustyn briefed Makhudu for his trip and also submitted the new bird-scaring line pamphlet for print.
Bronwyn Maree caught up with James Nagan (Fiji Port-based Outreach Officer) and liaised on various reports due on his project. James has been offline for a short while due to a cyclone hitting parts of Fiji. Bronwyn also worked through multiple reports - workshop reports, port visit reports from the two Port-based Outreach officers as well as preparing a proposal for training of compliance officers. Nini van der Merwe, with assistance from Ross, Bronwyn, Reason, Philip and Andrew de Blocq, delivered the South African Observer Training Workshop. A successful workshop saw nine local fisheries observers improving their seabird identification skills and gaining a deeper understanding of why they have to collect some data, and what is done with it. Ross and Andrew then took the group on a pelagic excursion to cement their new ID skills. Nini completed the report for the above workshop, and also followed up on deliverables and deadlines with international colleagues working on the Common Oceans Project. Philip conducted multiple port visits and a vessel visit was completed during the week. He finalised vessel visit reports following a review by Bronwyn.
Ross finalized a project proposal for €1.2 million, to the Blue Action Fund, to support South Africa’s Phase 2 in identifying Marine Protected Areas. He also worked with Cleo Small (RSPB and head of BLI Marine Programme) on a draft for Common Oceans Phase 2. He attended a Responsible Fisheries Alliance SteerCo meeting, and presented BirdLife South Africa’s proposal to develop Ecosystem Indicators that could be used to make the management of the small pelagic fisheries more responsive to ecosystem distress signals. He also assisted with another marathon recruitment process for the West Africa marine team,
TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson met with Kishaylin Chetty to discuss Ingula Partnership meetings and joined Daniel and Linda van den Heever for a discussion on BirdLife South Africa’s work undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal. Hanneline also met with Tanya Caldwell regarding African Birdlife advertorials and potential synergies within the Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme. Hanneline, Linda and Melissa Whitecross attended the final meeting and training session for the upcoming Flufftail Festival scheduled to take place on. Linda presented a talk on lead poisoning in birds at BirdLife Northern Gauteng, drew up a funding proposal for vulture conservation, met with Linda Laccheri (Wits Geosciences Laboratory) to discuss the best method for extracting lead from blood samples, and met with Prof. Vinny Naidoo at Onderstepoort to discuss the statistical analysis of the lead project data. The Ingula Partnership welcomes Sakhile Mthalane as a new, permanent staff member of BirdLife South Africa, in the position of Ingula Project Assistant. Carina Coetzer and Sakhile continued with avifaunal surveys on and around Ingula, including a post-breeding survey of White-bellied Korhaan done by Sakhile. Carina conducted several meetings with landowners in the Wilge Stewardship Initiative, and also researched proper veld management techniques to include in the Ingula Grazing Management Plan. Melissa Whitecross submitted an article to African Birdlife about Flock on the West Coast 2018. She met with Ernst Retief to go through the Secretarybird tracking dataset which she has begun to analyse for the upcoming publication on juvenile dispersal.
Sam Ralston and Nndwa Mahali met with Alice Collier. Alice is a Climate Change and Energy Policy officer for RSPB and offered to take some time out of her holiday to exchange insights and ideas about our work. Nndwa and Alice also took a trip out to visit Eskom’s Sere Wind Farm on the West Coast. Sam, Hanneline and Jono Booth met with Andrew Jenkins to discuss BirdLife South Africa’s approach to industrial developments (particularly impact assessments). Sam spent much of the rest of the week studying the impact assessment reports for the Inyanda Roodeplaat Wind Farm in the Eastern Cape which was recently approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs. A disappointing outcome which BirdLife South Africa intends to appeal.
Landscape Analysis & Project Development
Dale Wright joined a skype meeting with colleagues from BirdLife South Africa, Conservation Outcomes and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to discuss a joint conservation project focused on northern Zululand, including a potential new Key Biodiversity Area and opportunities for enhancing avitourism.
Wilge Stewardship Project
Ernst Retief, Carina Coetzer and Bradley Gibbons (EWT) discussed the way forward to meet with land owners and obtain documentation needed to start the formal proclamation process. It is hoped that all documentation can be obtained within the next two months.
Estuary IBA Conservation Project
Dale circulated a draft concept note and budget to colleagues for the CapeNature collaborative project focused on securing formal protection for six estuaries in the Western Cape. Giselle Murison had skype meetings with UK-based landowners at the Klein project site on Monday andto discuss the next steps in the proclamation of a co-managed Nature Reserve for their properties. She also met with landowners from the Klein River estuary at BirdLife South Africa’s offices in Kirstenbosch around the same topic. Giselle and Dale met with Mark Anderson to discuss their respective projects. Giselle also spent time this week drafting a concept proposal to the Table Mountain Fund, and preparing initial comments on proposed changes to the Bergrivier Spatial Development Framework (SDF).
Mistbelt Grassland and Forest Conservation Project
Conservation Outcomes held a meeting with the landowner and manager at Tillietudlem, near Impendle in the KZN midlands, to discuss changing the Stewardship category of the property from “Biodiversity Agreement” to Nature Reserve. The approximately 1900ha property was assessed and meets the criteria for Nature Reserve status. It contains areas of mistbelt grassland in good condition and is suitable habitat to all three crane species, as well as Blue Swallow. The landowner is interested in moving from the current category to Nature Reserve and a draft declaration agreement was discussed. The landowner will need to get the area surveyed as the surveyor general diagrams will be required to accompany the declaration agreement. The management plan for the area was also discussed as the declaration will be done in terms of this plan. The memo required for this property to be supported as a Nature Reserve by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife will be drafted and submitted in the next week. The draft management plans for Sunnyvale and Trewirgie have been completed and sent to the landowners for their comment and input. Meetings with the landowners to discuss and finalise the management plans will be held during early to mid-May. Daniel Marnewick met with Andrew Blades, Executive Director of Grindrod Bank, to update Andrew on progress made in BirdLife South Africa-Conservation Outcomes southern KZN projects. Grindrod Bank is continuing their funding for 2018. With a suite of natural resource management projects in the pipeline for development this year, we hope that Grindrod Bank and other corporates will continue their support in 2019.
Supporting Biodiversity Stewardship
Dale Wright attended a workshop with the WWF-SA Land Programme, which is aiming to determine future priority actions for the Land Programme as well as develop further collaboration across multiple partners. Dale facilitated a focus group discussion which investigated the various socio-economic benefits which arise from community involvement in protected areas and biodiversity stewardship sites. Dale also held a skype discussion with a colleague from the Rainforest Trust interested in undertaking PhD research on Privately Protected Areas and emerging area-based conservation mechanisms.
Karoo Research and Conservation Project
Dr Alan Lee spent time working on various manuscripts which are being drafted for publication, based on the first season of field work completed during 2017.
Data Management Project
During his recent annual leave period Dale Wright completed six full protocol SABAP2 atlas cards and collected almost 400 observations across 200 different species in the northern Kwazulu-Natal area IBAs.
IBA/KBAs and bird data and Spatial planning Project
Ernst Retief continues to work on a number of projects. Vetting of the threatened species data for BirdLasser continued and will be completed soon. More tests were done to determine how remote sensing can be used to support Management Authorities in Protected Environments. Ernst also finalised the shapefiles for the Secretarybirds that were tracked during the past few years. The dates for the first two combined SABAP2 and BirdLasser workshops in Pretoria and Gauteng were finalised. These events will now be advertised widely.
Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas
Simeon Bezeng was involved with a workshop in Cape Town on data use for decision making that falls under the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme, organized by SANBI and UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). This workshop aimed at analysing foundational biodiversity data and mainstreaming data, using the different government stakeholders, into policy and decision making. Additionally, as the workshop brought together over 50 participants from 27 African countries, it was a good opportunity to engage with different stakeholders in his pilot country analysis for the Biodiversity Assessment for Spatial Prioritization in Africa (BASPA) project. Daniel Marnewick spent most of the week preparing for the KBA Committee meeting he will be attending next week in Austin, USA. Daniel will be reporting back on the KBA Community, formation of KBA National Coordination Groups, and on KBA training development.
Awareness for IBA & KBA Conservation
Ernst Retief completed all the relevant documents, web pages, online entry forms and Facebook Event Page for Birding Big Day 2018. Attempts are now underway to find corporate sponsors for the event.
POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
Candice Stevens drafted the focal areas of the new Global Conservation Tax Committee (GCTC) this week. The GCTC is receiving more and more requests from countries across the globe for tax assistance. There is considerable interest in this global platform and Candice is thrilled to be pioneering this and hopes to use South Africa’s tax successes as a model for other countries to replicate. Final preparations are also underway regarding an extension to the collaborative partnership between SANBI and the Fiscal Benefits Project which will see additional capacity to further the uptake of tax incentives. Additionally, Candice met with the BioFin Project Leader for South Africa to discuss how her input on this area of work will be provided to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Finally, Candice also followed up on pending litigation regarding the William Patrick Bower advocacy case.
Jonathan Booth engaged with the Danish BirdLife partner (Dansk Ornitologisk Forening) with regards to a best practice guideline proposal, and the possibility of extending this project to other African regions. He also had a strategy workshop with the Ghanaian BirdLife partner (Ghana Wildlife Society) in order to help them develop their advocacy and policy strategy. He researched a proposed farming operation that would destroy White-backed Vulture nesting trees, and informed the consultants that BirdLife South Africa would oppose this should the an application be made for environmental authorisation. He also engaged with a bank with regards to the implementation of the Equator Principles in relation to specific proposed developments.
AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME
The majority of the week was given over to human resource issues including completing learnership agreements for five trainee guides. Martin Taylor undertook work on a framework agreement between BirdLife South Africa and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). A meeting was held with Julia Pierini of the RSPB to discuss corporate governance issues pertaining to BirdLife Zimbabwe and key projects being undertaken by that organisation. A meeting was held with Ian Barber of the RSPB to discuss partner development work in southern Africa. Negotiations took place between BirdLife South Africa and Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) regarding a contract to review regional avifaunal legislation and develop a Regulation on Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Avifauna. This is a USAID funded contract. Assistance was provide to the South African post office with regards to a new set of bird related stamps. Budgets were reviewed.
The Board of Directors met. Mark Anderson met with several donors, including Andrew Blades (Executive Director of Grindrod Bank) and Peter Willig (MD of Eurolux). The monthly Marketing Committee meeting was held and other meetings were held with Utopia and Liz Rees-Jones about BirdLife South Africa’s marketing work. Mark Anderson attended the Cape Bird Club Annual General meeting, and held meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town with various staff. On the weekend he spent time with Dr Morné du Plessis, the CEO of WWF-SA.